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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Buyer

#95: Productivity, Please

With all that I hope to accomplish in both my career and personal life, it’s easy to allow myself to become overwhelmed, or stuck between tasks without extremely clear short-term goals that I’m excited about. Over the last few months, my ability to remain focused on one project, let alone one task plummeted. For example, I sit down at my desk to work on a straightforward document. Someone interrupts to ask a quick question. We talk for five minutes. Instead of returning to the task at hand, my mind suddenly goes blank, or drifts to another seemingly pressing task, and I lose all momentum. I’d like to get back to work, but I’m not motivated enough. In other words, I’m not confident in my prioritization to know that I’m making the right decision to focus my effort, and my ‘focus muscle’ is out of shape.

Since the personal feedback I received after OP2, I’ve been struggling to find my groove at work. I spent October – December questioning my career goals, how my career contributes to my purpose in life, and the impact of such goals on personal relationships. I was fully convinced it was time to hit my stride again in December, but continued to struggle with my broader purpose. I was fully convinced again back in January, but struggled with the lack of short-term learning goals.

Time away from concrete career goals provided a chance to focus strictly on personal goals such as travel, developing and strengthening friendships, emotional growth, fitness, and getting a puppy. Each of these requires time and energy, but much less energy to maintain than to develop. I’ve proven that I can exist on both sides of the work + life balance spectrum, and make almost anything happen IF I’m focused on it. Now that I can manage these things individually, the next challenge is to continue momentum with the personal items, and continuing onward with my career. Funny enough, my working hours have remained similar, but extremely variable in productivity due to lack of concrete priorities and objectives and minimally enforced self-discipline. Distraction is not always within my control, but self-discipline, prioritization and work ethic are well within my control.  

Over the last two weeks, I uncovered opportunities and found paths to execute, but continued to make excuses as to why I hadn’t executed. In reality, I didn’t execute because the ‘intense focus’ muscle atrophied. As I sat down to focus yesterday, I felt out of place. I didn’t feel like the version of Michelle Buyer that I know – I felt like the version of Michelle Buyer that my ex-boyfriend convinced me that I should be. I’ve never been so grateful that he is an ex. Even if I wasn’t always proud of the version of myself that I was before, this isn’t the version of myself that I want to be either. I’m committing myself to not only carry forward the work ethic that enables me to enjoy what I’m doing and be proud of myself, but use this newfound sense of emotional maturity and purpose to propel me even further. In a tangible sense, I’m looking forward to set ambitious yet reasonable project goals and manage my stress so that I don’t take it out on others the way I used to. You heard of Michelle 1.0 for her accomplishments but never saw her. You became friends with Michelle 2.0, but Michelle 3.0… Well, she’s about to be a force of nature with the cutest, most well-behaved dog.

I’m nervous that I’ve lost trust in my team and with my business partners, but that means that I have nothing to lose. The more I allow myself to dwell on my performance the last few months, the more I move in the wrong direction. I’m reminding myself that I renewed my goals because this is what I want. Sure, I work because that’s what adults do, but I work because I find it enjoyable and challenging. It’s not that I haven’t had the opportunity for challenge the last few months. I avoided the challenge because I allowed others to tell me that I shouldn’t challenge myself. Funny how that happened… I think I can name a few people who were intimidated but wouldn’t admit it. The more people told me this, the more I desperately clung to career goals as a defense mechanism to maintain my identity, even though the pressure made me second guess myself enough to hit the brakes.

I was asked about past relationships the other day – I was so shocked by the emotional capability the question suggested that I didn’t know what to say. The question in itself made the past even more irrelevant. There’s so much, yet so little to share. More than anything, the question makes any lingering frustration a series of ‘memes’ – Regardless of what happens in the future. The relevant information is that 1) I’m only interested in dating when life values and goals are aligned; and 2) I take feedback and constructive criticism EXTREMELY seriously, even to a fault. For the first time in a long time, I’m both at peace and truly excited about my personal ‘state of the union.’ I’m nervous about delivering these two documents on time, but the best way to overcome that is to write the damn docs. One step at a time – it’s meant to be challenging. That’s what makes it fun. (This was written before I became extremely overwhelmed by the dog…)

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